A Wing & A Prayer
AWAP blends Eric Greene’s academic and nonprofit expertise to advance projects, campaigns and research tackling the complexities of our relationships with other animals. We help organizations to publicly represent these relationships in compelling ways, and to improve those relationships at home and across communities. When appropriate, we apply behavior change models to animal and environmental projects.
Animals & Culture Studies – Innovations in Higher Ed
Beginning in the early 1980s, Eric developed the first transdisciplinary programs in Animals and Culture Studies, designed to explore our understandings of nonhuman animals (real and symbolic, as individuals and as groups) cross-culturally, and the complexities of our relationships with them. His work continues to be inspired by notions of compassion, social justice, environmental ethics and other interdisciplinary studies while illuminating the subjectivity and agency of individual animals (as well as the historical resistance to considering them in this way).
Although transdisciplinary, Eric rooted the field in cultural anthropology due to its emphasis on culture, community, critical thinking, comparative ethics and holism. Likewise, intrinsic to the field are the meanings and experiences attributed to being human, including our connections with ‘Nature.’ (Since its introduction, others refer to the field as ‘animal studies,’ ‘anthrozoology,’ ‘critical animal studies,’ or other variant).
In 2010, Eric began working in an emerging subfield he calls Animal Death Studies / Zoothanatology, as well as on understanding ‘the animal’ within the context of family (see below under Family Spirals™).
Eric graduated with a B.A. in Animals & Culture Studies from Binghamton University and continued his inquiry through an innovative M.A. progra, at Vermont College (now housed at The Union Institute and University), followed by advanced study at The New School for Social Research within the department of cultural anthropology.
The Animals & Culture Studies Program – Miami-Dade College
In 1990, Eric created and taught the pioneering Animals & Culture Studies Program at Miami-Dade College for nearly four years. He developed curricula for six core courses:
- Cultural Anthropology – Nonhuman animals in human cultural thought and structures
- Physical Anthropology – The human animal and constructions of sociobiology
- International Relations – Social considerations for ecological preservation
- Ethics – Animals in human ethical systems
- Humanities – Reflecting animals
- Social Problems – Speciesism and other oppressions in the U.S.
Classes were conducted as transdisciplinary seminars in which students would be introduced to key concepts in animals and culture studies. Those enrolled in the program would apply this learning to their coursework in the six core courses. Students could also adapt animal-related themes to coursework in any of 30 additional courses in sociology, economics, education, ecology, business and health sciences.
The Animals & Culture Studies Program provided Eric with opportunities to apply his teachings in communities throughout Dade County. He worked with campus galleries on key exhibitions (including one by Sue Coe), coordinated a Humane Education Village with the Miami Book Fair International, met with the publisher of The Miami Herald to review his evaluation of their coverage of animal stories, and served as co-chair of the Friends of the Dade County Animal Shelter.
Clients & Affiliations
Former clients include the Animals & Society Institute (ASI), to whom Eric provided consultation in strategic planning, fund development and communications. He served on their advisory council, and on their Human-Animal Studies Executive Committee. Eric also provided critical support in establishing the multidisciplinary peer-reviewed journal Society & Animals and continues to serve on its editorial board. He conceived of ASI’s undergraduate journal, Sloth.
While living in Miami, FL, Eric served as co-Chair and Director of Humane Education for the Friends of the Dade County Animal Shelter (now defunct). In the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, he co-coordinated veterinarians, animal protection organizations, army personnel, The Red Cross, volunteers, supplies and marketing in animal relief efforts. With the Miami Book Fair International, he organized an entire humane education village with various artistic, participatory and cross-cultural educational activities.
Visit Organizations to review other organizations served.
Eric is the founder of Family Spirals®, a global think tank and capacity-building nonprofit focusing on the role that family plays in our personal and public lives. It is dedicated to family wellbeing through public education, the development of online resources, research, and capacity-building support to providers and communities.
Families shape our personal experiences and are key conductors of cultural learning and values. Family Spirals® addresses some of the most stigmatized, marginalized and complicated issues within families through its four programmatic centers:
- Center for Families with Animals – improving our relationships with animals and one another. It explores family violence holistically, including the linkages among pet, child, elder, spousal, and sibling abuse.
- Center on Sibling Dynamics™ – exploring sibling aggression, conflicts, and friendships. Sibling aggression is an often tolerated form of bullying.
- Center for the Adult Child™ – healing transgressions between children and parents. They’re launching with a program on in-law conflicts.
- Center on Cyberfamilies – Privacy, respect and connecting in a digital age. Addressing ways that technology may strengthen or weaken family bonds.
The Center for Families with Animals also hosts the Green Pet-Burial Society. Founded in early 2010, the Society takes a multilevel approach and addresses practical applications in promoting green burial options for a beloved pet’s remains, including conservation whole-family cemeteries where animal bodies may be buried in the family plot. The creation of conservation pet and whole-family cemeteries is also a mechanism by which to establish new wildlife preserves. Such programs play a unique role in bridging humane and environmental communities. The Society is also a pioneering force in the emerging subfield of Animal Death Studies (in 2010 he coined the term Zoothanatology).
Greene, Eric. 2003. Honoring Memory: Animals, the Holocaust and Social Marketing in PsYETA News, 23:2-3. (a much edited version of original article)
Greene, Eric S. 1995. Ethnocategories, Social Intercourse, Fear and Redemption: Comment on Laurent’s ‘Definition of the Category Mushi … ‘ in Society and Animals, 3 (1): 79-88.
Greene, Eric S. 1993. Gender, Politics and Spiritual Transformation: Comment On Lawrence’s ‘The Symbolic Role of Animals … ‘” in Society and Animals, 1 (1): 39-44.
What’s in a name?
Coming in on a Wing and a Prayer, 1943, by Harold Adamson and Jimmie McHugh
From Eric Greene: I’ve always loved this expression; my mother used it occasionally. It was only after choosing it to name EverGreene’s Animal Division that I learned of its origin. “On a wing and a prayer” was part of the title of a popular WWII song with a fox-trot melody that referred to a damaged airplane coming back to base. I like the metaphorical trajectory:
the term ‘wing’ from bird anatomy > metaphorically refers to wings of an airplane > used in a popular song that struck a chord with the American public > and used ever since as an expression of hope: despite the odds, we can still manage to reach safety.
Worldwide, animals are routinely degraded and killed by humans. Since those who work on the front lines to help animals and preserve habitat often confront incredible violence, reference to a war song is appropriate. AWAP provides the level of skill necessary to successfully bring projects and missions back home .
updated November 7, 2017